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INQUEST., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 658, 9 June 1882
An enquiry took place at the Royal Hotel this afternoon before Dr Trevor, Coroner, and a jury, of whom Mr W. H. Gundry was chosen foreman, touching the death of George Compton, who was found lying dead on the river bank near Ashburton yesterday. The jury having viewed the body, The Coroner said that the brother of the deceased was not satisfied that he had met his death by drowning, and it was possible he might have to adjourn the inquest. He would, however, go on taking the evidence.
W. Anderson said that he took Mr Compton on Monday evening from Quill’s Hotel. They took a cab at the Railway Station, and proceeded to the corner of Moore street, where Mr Compton got out. This was near his house. It was then about six o’clock in the evening. Deceased asked witness to come in, but he refused. Deceased made straight for his own house. Never saw him again alive. Witness might mention that when going along in the cab, the window of the vehicle was shaking with the motion, and deceased got up, and pushed his hand through the glass. He put his hand up and the glass came tumbling down. It was dark when the deceased got out of the cab, and he was quite able to find his way home, although he was under the influence of liquor at the time. By the Coroner ; The glass from the cab window might have caused the cuts on the face of the deceased, but he should hardly think so. [The witness here, at the suggestion of the Coroner, went to look at the corpse, and said, when he returned, that he did not consider the cuts on the face could hava been caused by the falling glass.] In reply to a juror, the witness said deceased might have fallen against a post or wire fence, and so have injured himself. Deceased arrived by the express train from the Rakaia on Monday morning. He had been to see his brother, who was sick there.
John Newman, cab-driver, deposed to driving the deceased home on Monday evening. Mr Anderson was with him. Put him down at the corner of Moore street, close to his house. Mr Compton broke the cab window going home, but witness could not say whether he cut himself, as it was dark when he got out. Saw no blood about the cab. Put deceased down at the corner of the fence near his house. Saw no other person about the place when deceased got out. Cornelius O’Connor, laborer, stopping at the Ashburton Hotel, deposed that about 7 on Monday evening, he heard someone “ holloing” down the river. The cry was so pitiful that witness went out a short distance from the hotel, but heard nothing more. By the Coroner: The cry was very wild. It was a that of a human being. Thought it was someone calling for assistance in driving cattle. The cries would continue for a few minutes, then would stop and begin again. Witness went as far as Brankin’s house, and came out with Mrs Brankin. They heard the cries, but they appeared a considerable distance away. The night was very dark, and it was snowing. Did not suspect at the time there was any one in particular trouble. By the Foreman: Theories continued for about ten minutes.
Lawrence Rattray, dairyman, deposed to finding the body of the deceased yesterday. Was specially searching for him. The body was lying in a stream of water about two and a half miles below the bridge. The body was nearly covered with water, and lying face downwards. The face was touching the shingle. Witness informed other searchers where the body was, and went to the police to tell them. The clothes were not disturbed when the body was found, as if there had been any scuffle. Mounted-constable Neil deposed that he had searched the body of the deceased. The clothes were not disturbed as if there had been a fight. The face was covered with fresh blood, apparently flowing from some wound. Found eight shillings in silver on deceased, and the pipe, knife, and watch chain (gold) produced. The pockets wore undisturbed. The chain was hanging pendant from the pocket. [At this stage the enquiry was adjourned for half-an-hour, to enable Dr Leahy to examine the body, some doubts having been expressed as to the manner in which deceased met his death, his brother fancying that there might be reason to suspect foul play.]
Masonic. —A notice to our Masonic readers, concerning the funeral of the late Mr George Compton, appears elsewhere. The Hunt.— ln consequence of the disagreeable weather experienced during the last few days, the hunt, which was to have taken place to-morrow, has been postponed. The Late Shipping Disaster a Timaru. —The Timaru Harbor Board yesterday voted L3OO, being one year’s salary, to the widow of the late Harbormaster. It also resolved to at once order a powerful tug from Home, to be built specially to meet the requirements of the port, and in the meantime to hire a steam launch. The report of the committee on the wreck and recent loss of life was to the effect that it arose from the unfortunate but well-meant attempt of Captain Mills to save the City of Perth, followed by a misconception on the part of Captain McDonald as to Captain Mills’ reason for going off, caused by the miscarriage of a message sent to him by Captain Mills. It further appeared that the immediate cause of loss of life was the upsetting of the third boat through inefficient handling,
INQUEST., Ashburton Guardian, Volume III, Issue 658, 9 June 1882
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